Investigating the Book of Kells
Created by Celtic monks, circa 800 AD, this masterwork of a manuscript represents the pinnacle of the Irish traditions of illumination and calligraphy. The mind-boggling complexity and ornamentation combining figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts with Celtic knot-work and interlace is why it has been a leading subject of interest among artists and historians. In keeping with the recent spurt of effort in the area of digitisation of cultural artefacts, we aim to bring this perennial tourist attraction to a digital platform.
My co-supervisor, Dr John Dingliana of the GV2 Group in the School of Computer Science comments, “This project, which is a collaboration between Computer Science and Art History, is to take images from the book of Kells and try to get quantative statistic measures of certain patterns in the style and design and geometry within these images, then to analyse them for specific applications in art history and computer science.”
The first outcome from such a project is that we would be able to bring more images to a wider public audience by recreating and, in the first instance, directly visualising the pages. However, these pages would not just be scanned and displayed as photographs, but rather captured and segmented, with extracted significant lines, degradation removed and displayed digitalized versions of pages or images to the public.
Using the latest in computer visualisation technology, we hope to quantify stylistic features and provide a comprehensive statistical foundation to the analysis of artwork. In collaboration with art historians, we are creating a framework of statistical tools for analysis, comparison, hi-fidelity reconstruction for interactive visualisation and creation of artwork in keeping with its tradition. We will provide art historians with a closer look at the Book of Kells than ever possible before.